Just to put a slightly different pov on this. I think its important to point out that the Mercury (and its parent company) are trying to operate on a significantly reduced revenue if you compare back in the day (15 years ago) to now, and that this is bound to have an effect on the quality of the product (reporting etc).
The Mercury used to sell just under 34,000 copies in 2000, and now sells just under 11,000 so the publisher has had to deal with a huge drop in cover price revenue. Plus, the big hit came to the newspaper industry with the likes of Ebay, Rightmove, and Reed etc. Basically the internet took the classified advertising revenue (cars, jobs, homes) which was the cash cow of the local newspaper industry.
As the classified advertising moved, then naturally we, the readers, moved too and started not buying the paper when we wanted to buy a new car/house, or find a new job, because we knew we just had to look online....for free!! I'm sure there are two schools of thought around which came first...1) reduced quality of reporting leading to less readers, or 2) less readers leading to reduced revenue leading to the need to reduce quality....although I'm sure no one said "lets reduce the quality of the paper to save costs"....it was probably more along the lines of "we need to reduce our cost base so lets have one reporter cover this patch instead of 3, and lets bring in more of that syndicated editorial stuff from Head Office because we don't need to pay reporters to start from scratch" etc etc.
Unfortunately we can all get all the free news we want these days (numerous places online, numerous apps etc) so people are buying less newspapers (applies to the nationals as well as the locals) and this trend is highly unlikely to reverse. As the world is a smaller place, and we can access news from all over the world, then people literally have less time, and are less interested, in their local news. Plus the amount of time that gets sucked up by Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc.
Waffled on a bit there, but my pov is that the local newspaper industry used to be king, the only place to go for local news and local classified, but now its not, its at the bottom of the pile and no one is buying papers anymore, so without the £££ investment (from cover price or ad revenue), then quality (of coverage etc) is bound to be affected. It's like complaining the local shop is closing and then realising you haven't bought anything from it in 6 months!
It'll be a sad day when the local news industry closes, local reporting plays an important role in holding local companies/politicians to account in the public interest (investigative reporting etc) as well as a great place to bring the community together.
Full disclosure: I don't work for the Mercury, or any local publishers, but have worked in marketing for 25 years and have had many dealings with the local news industry, and have seen the change from a commercial pov.